Cargo Thefts Surge to Record Levels in Q1 2024

CargoNet says logistics and transportation crime reaches record high first quarter, with heightened risk during Memorial Day weekend.
By: | May 23, 2024
checking trailer seal

Criminal activity in the logistics and transportation sector soared to all-time highs in the first quarter of 2024, according to CargoNet, which also warned of a heightened risk of cargo thefts over the Memorial Day weekend.

The U.S. logistics and transportation industry is facing an unprecedented surge in criminal activity, according to CargoNet, a subsidiary of Verisk. In the first quarter of 2024, CargoNet documented 925 incidents, a substantial 46% increase compared to the same period in 2023 and a 10% rise from the fourth quarter of 2023.

The impact of these thefts is significant, with the average stolen shipment valued at $281,757, the report found. CargoNet estimates that a total of $154.6 million worth of goods were stolen during Q1 2024.

While cargo thefts increased in most states, some of the highest activity in Q1 occurred in three states, which together accounted for 61% of thefts in the quarter:

  • California, with a 72% year-over-year increase.
  • Illinois, with a 126% year-over-year increase.
  • Texas, with a 22% year-over-year increase.

“Much of the threat came in the form of complex fraud schemes, where entire truckloads were picked up and never delivered or delivered with digitally altered paperwork to hide the theft from the customer,” according to CargoNet. “However, simple cargo theft, including the whole theft of unattended, loaded trailers and pilferage of unattended, loaded trailers, remained a persistent issue.”

Memorial Day Weekend

Supply chain professionals should be on high alert this upcoming Memorial Day weekend due to the likelihood of cargo thieves taking advantage of extended business closures, the company noted in a separate advisory.

CargoNet’s analysis of theft data from 2019 to 2023 reveals a rising trend in theft events during the period from the Thursday before Memorial Day to the Wednesday after the holiday. The number of reported incidents over this period jumped to 40 in 2023 from 16 in 2022, with an average of 29 events per year over the five-year span, the company stated.

Food and beverage items emerged as the most frequently stolen commodities over Memorial Day weekends, with cargo thieves targeting a wide range of products in this category across 24 incidents. Household items followed closely with 23 reported thefts, while electronics were involved in 18 incidents.

To mitigate these risks, it is crucial for industry stakeholders to enhance security measures, particularly in the states identified as high-risk, such as California, which accounted for nearly double the reported Memorial Day weekend incidents compared to Texas, the second most affected state.

Heightened Risk Management

In light of these trends, supply chain professionals must remain vigilant for unauthorized attempts to divert shipments from their intended recipients.

“Shippers should consider enhancing sign-in procedures to capture vital information about the truck and driver picking up a shipment,” advises CargoNet. The company suggested extra vigilance for end-of-day transactions, and for truckers who are willing to haul an “undesirable load” for less than the industry standard rates, which it says may be a red flag.

In addition, for goods in transit, the company recommended that security managers and drivers have accurate license plate, VIN, and descriptive information for tractors, trailers, containers, and container chassis. Police agencies will need this information to open an investigation in the event of an incident, the company explained. Securing all trailers, loaded and unloaded, with high security seals and padlocks is advised, as well as securing tractors with locking devices, such as steering column locks, the report noted.

The loss trends observed in the first quarter are expected to continue, the company said.

“The threat landscape remains dynamic, necessitating continuous vigilance and proactive security measures from stakeholders across the supply chain,” CargoNet stated.

View the first-quarter report on CargoNet’s website. &

The R&I Editorial Team can be reached at [email protected].

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